43756265: ERROR

The Programmer’s stomach was in knots. His fingers danced feverishly about his keyboard. He came to a stop, finished with coding the most recent history. Finally he came to a point where he need only sit and watch as his world carried on. He watched it speed along to what was current.

He watched himself do as he did. The Programmer was livid. He watched himself carry on day by day. Then everything seemed to slow. It had caught up, and apprehension gripped him.

/?
___..,-;:]})\/#@%$<2027.10.15;19.33.22.245>
\&

He watched himself fail. The failure was visceral. It hurt. It maddened. He wanted to die. Everything seemed to close in around him. Was it the end? Was it all just going to speed up and rip apart? Was it all going to be dark? Would he not be?

That’s what he had just watched. But it didn’t happen. Maybe there was hope. He returned to the moment of failure and re-ran it. No matter what, it all just falls apart. His work just ends. He ends. He ended himself.

His desperation caused him to go into a state of utter madness. He destroyed himself.

\&
/?

He watched himself fail and go into a fit. He screamed and yelled. He punched the window, earning a massive gash in his arm. He watched himself perform this. The knots in his stomach twisted further, bile rising in his throat. Was this also a failure?

He bolted up from his seat, and felt desperate. No. Was he doomed, too? He felt as if tearing his eyes from the screen would only ensure his demise. His heart has racing. He collapsed to the floor and started crying. His mind hurt. He was doing it all to himself and he couldn’t stop it. Tears streamed down his face. His sobbing stuttered and devolved into coughing and retching. He vomited on the floor.

Hearing the cries of a broken animal, his other half tore into the room and came to his aid. He pulled the Programmer from the puddle of his sick, cradled him in his arms, and carried him into the bathroom. The other half drew the bath, and he settled into it with the Programmer still in his arms. The poor boy shook violently.

After the bath, the Programmer’s other half took him into the living room and settled him on the couch, then he cleaned up the vomit.

The Programmer returned to his room and showed his partner what he had seen.

/?
\&

The other half bolted into the room to find the Programmer sitting on the floor bleeding. He fetched the first aid kit and cleaned the wound before stapling it shut. He dressed it and carried the Programmer to bed.

\&
/?

The two watched the show in silence. They needn’t speak. They went to bed, hoping there was something brighter to come

The next day, the Programmer returned to himself and watched as he sat before his desk typing. He examined what he was writing and discovered them to be the sort of disjointed notes strung together by a sort of narrative pseudocode that was his way of outlining a story.

He watched himself cobble the pieces of his work together. Day after day, he watched himself work on what would turn out to be a video game. Within the game, he was coding a secret riddle woven within the narrative and mechanics. It was the sort of riddle only somebody of his other half’s and his level of intelligence could even spot, let alone figure out. It was the riddle of everything.

/?
\&

The game was eventually released and the programmer and his partner spent the days relaxing and working intermittently on their main project.

Eventually, the Programmer was contacted by two individuals at relatively the same time with the answer to the riddle. The game had only been available to the public for two weeks. Two individuals were named Adam Linn and Adam Null. The programmer arranged for the two men to meet.

The two Adams met with the Programmer and his partner, who were both surprised to find that the riddle-solvers closely resembled themselves: young, lithe blond men in their twenties.

When they met, Linn introduced himself to Null. Breathless and apprehensive, Null didn’t speak, only lifting his shirt to reveal a QR code on his left hip. Linn pulled out his phone, scanned it, and was greeted with Null’s e-portfolio. The featured image was artwork of a man resembling Null wearing dragon scale pants and leather gloves. His eyes were red and his hair was white. The other three recognized the character to be from a 2017 game they had enjoyed.

Null’s eyes welled with tears and Linn took him into his arms.

\&
/?

The Programmer watched as everything around Linn and Null seemed to speed up. The two were inseparable. Null clung to Linn most hours of the day, never leaving his side. Linn did all the talking and Null mostly ever spoke to Linn.

The Programmer watched himself and his other half speed along with the work on their main project.

After a few days, the Programmer returned to find the project was speeding along at a break-neck pace around Linn and Null as they guided the Six, the project fast-forwarding on its own.

Eventually, the programmer watched as it all came to fruition and they were victorious. Their vision had been achieved, and Linn and Null were at the heart of it.

Everything sped up. The Programmer watched as the society Linn and Null built allowed them to achieve singularity. Their minds merged and from them was born a god.

The Programmer was speechless. He couldn’t breathe. The being turned his gaze up at the Programmer and spoke.

“Hello, friend!”

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Fear & Loathing in the New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant

I was looking through my old files and came across this piece I wrote one late night in November of 2013. It is a humorous but fully authentic review of my meal at a Chinese restaurant that is sadly no longer in business. I hope it brings you the same sensation of uneasy nostalgia it brings me.

 

Yesterday I felt like having a succulent Chinese meal, so I slid over to the “New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant”, it was an experience I shan’t soon forget. The restaurant is situated off Burnside on 4th, bordering a homeless slum. Their menu offers a typical selection of Chinese-American cuisine. I was greeted at the entrance by a shaggy, smelly old tramp from the next door slum. As I moved to step over him he mumbled some sort of apology and quickly shuffled off. Inside the eatery I was met with the grim gaze of a short sultry chinaman seated behind a counter along the back wall, he refused to acknowledge my presence. I assumed this passive attitude implied I was to seat myself. I did so and took the opportunity to survey the establishment.

The first thing that struck me, besides the smell, was the total absence of any other customers. The empty dining room was decorated with the usual nonsense, cheap cardboard cutouts of chinese symbols, floral-pattern mildew streaked curtains, and damp pink tablecloths stained with the marks of countless unwashed spills. The brown felt carpet seemed to be saturated in a foul smelling liquid that made the entire building stank. Precariously situated behind the sultry man at the back was an enormous glass tank which was full of half dead fish. I realized the tank’s turgid water was slowly leaking from its poorly sealed edges and may have been the source of the carpet’s odorous moisture. I must admit I was not very impressed.

After a quarter of an hour or so waiting at my chosen seat, another leaner chinaman with a sour look on his face approached me from the kitchen. He took my order and slunk into the back where he, along with the other sultry man, stared at me for the duration of my meal. I selected the pork fried rice with a side of crispy shrimp and a mysterious dish identified only as “hot meat sauce on egg noodle”. I waited some great length of time before the food was finally placed before me. What I encountered on those plates will remain in my memory for the rest of my days. The shrimp was outwardly recognizable, yet when I bit into one I was surprised to find a profound absence of shrimp. Where the succulent sweet meat should have been there was only a wad of under-cooked bitter batter. This disappointing discovery was repeated with three more shrimp before I gave up. The illusive “hot meat sauce” turned out to be hamburger helper served over a small portion of cold noodles. The substance that claimed to be rice revealed itself to actually be a stale mound of brown vomit permeated by the occasional colored shape which I assumed where once vegetables. Oddly the rice was the best dish of the lot, it tasted vaguely of coconuts and had a scent reminiscent of pond scum that made me wonder if perhaps a sailor was operating the kitchen. I was also given a complimentary bowl of what I initially guessed was soup, however it was actually dishwater with a bit of onion tossed in.  

I could not bring myself to finish any of the food, still I paid the bill ($25, before tip). When I stood to leave the miserable experience, I looked back at the kitchen to thank the server and was met with his cold and suspicious glare, so I just made my way to the door in silence. As I stepped through the threshold back into the musty chinatown air, a woman from the restaurant called out to me. Apparently I had forgotten my umbrella. She held it out and said in broken English “you not get dis till you clean”. I promptly snatched the umbrella and ran. If I was to rate “New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant” on a scale of Hitler to Reagan, I would give it an Obama (approximately Stalin+Hitler-Napoleon=Thatcher/Clinton). So when you walk the streets of chinatown looking for some good taste, think twice.